Peter Nyssen Blog
  • So long plastic packaging

    This autumn season we're proud, and excited to announce we have swapped the majority of our plastic packaging (around 1.5 tonnes!) for a GM free, fully compostable, plastic replacement made from potato starch in Finland. Just dispose of it with your food or garden waste or, if neither of those are available, pop it in your general waste bin. (Don't put it in your recycling: it will contaminate the plastic processing!).

    Our gorgeous Apricot Foxx tulips in their new non-plastic packaging

    We are all horrified about the ever growing plastic pollution problem. We saw Blue Planet II and last night's BBC documentary "Drowning in Plastic" with its harrowing shots of a seal strangled by plastic, sea birds so heavy from eating plastic they can't fly and other aberrations of the natural world and, like many of you, we're despairing of what can be done to turn the tide on the world's plastic addiction.

    At Peter Nyssen we have been pondering this question for some time. We wanted to reduce the amount of plastic we were putting out in to the world but it was not an easy journey. Initially we investigated the idea of more widely recyclable plastics. This was a complete minefield! We deliver to customers all over Europe and each country, and even different regions in the same country, have different recycling capabilities. Add to that the fact that currently only 11% of plastic is recycled in Europe we quickly realised this would not be the right solution for us.

    Tulip Apricot Foxx

    Our next port of call was a biodegradable alternative to plastic. Again, this was not a straightforward quest. Our first inquiries resulted in materials that broke down during industrial composting but still used petroleum based ingredients. This would mean that while the bags would break down, they'd leave behind non-biodegradable microplastics which would wash out in to the environment. Clearly NOT the solution we were looking for.

    Finally, we came across Bioska Plastiroll. It's a fully compostable, GM free, potato starch based plastic replacement made in a Finnish factory that uses only renewable energy. It sounded too good to be true! We were heartened to find that they already had a track record in packing vegetables with Abel and Cole but no one had used it to pack bulbs yet. We were in uncharted waters as to whether the new material would be suitable for our packing machines or whether it would maintain the high quality Peter Nyssen is known for. What's more, it's quite a lot more expensive than plastic so, for our small, family run company, it was quite a gamble.

    So, we ordered a few rolls and the great day of testing arrived. There were a few bitten nails but, with a few minor adjustments, Plastiroll was whizzing through our packing machines as though they were made for each other. Have a look at our packing machines in action here!

    We are deliriously happy with this small success on the path to de-plasticising our operations but we know we can go further. We're already looking for a good alternatives to the P9 black plastic pots we use for our plants and for a durable alternative in which to pack our narcissi. We are also very keen for more bulb companies to try using Plastiroll and have stored spare rolls with a local packaging company for any company that would like to get in touch to test it on their own packing machines.

  • Hello new tulips (and goodbye neonicotinoids)

    With the drop in the temperature we've been able to get out into the garden much more and now the dahlias have been trimmed (in the hope of another flush of flowers) we're thinking about our tulips for the spring.

    This is a rather exciting (well, maybe we should say nerve wracking) year here at Peter Nyssen because we've decided to source all our bulbs free from neonicotinoid pesticides. These chemicals have been found to adversely effect the health of our precious pollinators so we've decided to demand all our bulbs are supplied without using them. As of next year they'll be banned across the board but we like to be a step ahead of the curve!

    Where we haven't been able to guarantee these chemicals have been used we've had to replace many of our  tried and true favourites with new, but equally fabulous new varieties. So if you're hankering after the gorgeous tulips you grew this year but they're no longer available, fret not: here's our list of brilliant replacements.

    Tulip Cheers replaces Tulip Calgary Flames

    Tulip White Dream replaces Tulip Royal Virgin

    Tulip Yellow Flight replaces Tulip Yellow King

    Tulip Silk Road replaces Tulip Verona

    Tulip Gorilla replaces Tulip Curly Sue

    Tulip Daytona replaces Tulip Swan Wings

    Tulip Continental replaces Tulip Cafe Noir

    Tulip Jackpot replaces Tulip Fontainbleu

    Tulip Mascara replaces Tulip Jan Reus

    Tulip Lighting Sun replaces Tulip Orange Sun

    Tulip Salmon van Eijk replaces Tulip Sake

    Tulip Florijn Chic replaces Tulip Cistula

    Tulip Cartouche replaces Tulip Belicia

    Tulip Royal Virgin replaces Tulip White Marvel

    And for completeness sake, some tulips are no longer grown or the harvest was particularly poor. We've done our best to replace them with good alternatives where possible:

    Tulip Ayann replaces Tulip Recreado

    Tulip Big Love replaces Tulip Survivor

    Tulip Amazing Parrot replaces Tulip Irene

    Tulip White Rebel replaces Tulip Super Parrot

    Tulip Dragon King replaces Tulip Colour Spectacle


  • We're ditching plastic bags for our bulbs this autumn!

    Here at Peter Nyssen we’re pretty keen on gardening. To say the least! We’re also keen on the amazing natural world that our gardening complements. For this reason, the issue of plastic pollution has been bothering us for years. The damage it’s causing to our beautiful countryside, to our seas and all the myriad creatures that live in it is heart-breaking.

    Until this year we’ve used around 1500kg of plastic each to package our bulbs each autumn. All of that’s thrown away, every year.  

    We want to stop this waste and after quite some searching and testing we’re finally in a position to ditch the large majority of our plastic and replace it with an ingenious, fully compostable alternative called Bioska made by Plastiroll It’s made of fully compostable and biodegradable raw materials certified according to the European EN 13432 standard. What’s more it does not contain any genetically modified organisms. It can be easily disposed of in a garden or food waste bin where it decomposes within a few months.

    We think we’re the first bulb company to take this step and it hasn’t been easy. It’s surprising how few good alternatives there are to plastic packaging at the moment. We can’t use paper bags because would be prohibitively expensive to pack all our bulbs by hand! Many of the non-plastic alternatives are too stretchy to go through our packing machines. Or they won’t seal properly, or you can’t punch ventilation holes in them…. The list of problems goes on. BUT we think we’re there now. So, with a little luck and some well oiled supply chains, we’ll be sending out the first Bioska packaged spring bulbs for delivery from September.  

    Although Bioska is more expensive than plastic we’ve decided to absorb the costs ourselves and the price of our products will not be affected by the change. After all, the oceans need all the help we can give them and it may sound trite, but who can put a price on the health of the oceans?

    In the future we’d love to replace all our other packaging and pots with biodegradable, or at least recyclable alternatives. Rest assured we will continue looking for good alternatives.

    The team at Peter Nyssen

    #worldoceanday, #Goal14, #BeatPlasticPollution, #globalgoals, #morefishlessplastic

  • Honey, who shrunk the tulips?

    Well, it would appear Mother Nature's had a little hiccup this year! We all noticed our plants started growing later than normal and some of ours are looking positively stunted. Some tulips, especially the early varieties, have suffered at the hands of nature’s haphazard ways. They simply can’t cope with too much variability from the norm.

    Tulips, as a rule should be planted from the end of October. They will grow well planted up to the end of January but a long winter in ground under 9 degrees Celsius is essential to a producing a good root system and the best flowers. This year’s warm, wet winter has played havoc with this process. Add in the wild card of heavy snow and hard frost in March and some of our tulips have produced much shorter and smaller flowers than usual.

    Gardeners and professional growers throughout Europe have been struggling with shrunken flowers although it’s not all bad news for tulips. Not all varieties are as susceptible to the chaotic weather as others and the recent warm weather will have helped the later varieties bulk up their root systems ready.

    To help your tulips develop their top flower potential for next year we have the following top tips:

    1) Dress your tulips with sulphate of potash or a give them a good drenching of tomato feed every few weeks until the flower starts to fade

    2) Remove the flower as soon as possible to prevent the tulip using all its energy in producing seed. Allow the foliage to die back naturally for around 6 to 8 weeks

    3) Lift your bulbs from the soil after the foliage has turned straw-like, clean off the excess soil and dry them before storing in paper bags, onion sacks, open trays or even individual legs of old tights!

    We all hope Mother Nature will be back to her amazing best very soon!!

  • Do's and Don't s for your February garden

    • The celebrity Dahlia Cafe au Lait is sure to be a favourite this summer

      Do start off dahlia cuttings: If you want to take cuttings it's time to get your tubers sprouting! Start them off as soon as you receive them by placing them in large pots or deep trays with a generous helping of a general purpose compost. Partly fill your container to half cover the tuber and water (without allowing the water inside the tuber). When the shoots are around 8cm use a sharp knife to cut them away from the crown just above where they join the tuber. Trim off any growth under the top pair of leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder then pot up using John Innes No.2.  As the stems develop, pinch out any growth from the middle of the cutting to help create a bushy plant. Harden off before planting out around May.  Do keep an eye out for slugs and snails that will feast on your young plants.

    • Do care for your soil: Healthy soil is the key to all good growing so take some time to enrich yours before the spring gets started. Dig in plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure or leaf mould and, if your soil tends to be heavy, add some sharp sand or grit.
    • Don't cut back perennials: It's still too early to cut back the old growth from perennial plants. Leave the old growth to protect the new emerging shoots until early spring.
    • Do move shrubs: If you have any shrubs in the wrong place, now is the time to move them while they're still dormant.
    • Do deal with pests: Look out for any pests that have been hibernating and destroy them before they have a change to breed and cause havoc.
    • Don't use old compost: Old compost is a favourite hiding place for vine weevil larvae that destroy plants by munching on their roots. Clean post with jays fluid to ensure there are no germs left behind and fill with fresh compost.
    • Do remove weeds: Emerging weeds can be pulled up as they start to appear to prevent them from sowing seeds and becoming an invasive problem over the summer months.
  • Top tips for clearing snails and slugs from your garden

    Did you know that one in five of Britain’s gardeners admitted to dropping their snails over the fence? How naughty! And it doesn't work either. They just crawl their way back. However, a new study in the Physica Scripta journal shows that if the snail is moved by a much greater distance, of around 20 metres, it no longer returns. It seems that at this distance, the snail’s homing instinct is nullified. We decided to try it out and had a bit of fun re-housing our snails in nearby parkland.

    Some other good remedies are:

    • Remove weeds & rotting veg so slugs can't hide under them
    • Epsom Salts will deter them and also prevent magnesium deficiency in your plants
    • Make friends with your local barber and ask for the hair clippings! Sprinkle a thin layer of human, cat or dog hair around your plants and the slugs won't go on it. The hair will also add plant-feeding nitrogen to the soil as it slowly decomposes.
    • Open a Bar! Fill a shallow bowl with beer and wait overnight, then dispose of the boozy snails and slugs in the morning.
    • Eat half a grapefruit for breakfast and then use it as a slug trap. Put a couple of small holes in each side and then turn it upside down. Slugs love grapefruit and will gather to eat it, instead of your plants. Put the grapefruit, slugs and all, onto your compost.
    • If you have any watery areas or a pond in your garden, then visiting toads and frogs will snack on snails and slugs. Yum!? Avoid pesticides on your plants though or that will deter the frogs.

    We'd love to hear of any other tips that have worked for you - share your slimy success stories with us and we'll post them.

  • Our top 10 plants and bulbs for bees and pollinators

    As we've all seen in the news bees are under threat from a loss of habitat and certain pesticides. We can help to reverse their decline by planting their favourite plants in our gardens. According to a study by Sussex University the best plants can attract up to 100 times as many insects as the worst ones. Choose carefully and you can have a fragrant and colourful garden full of the busy buzzing of our all important bees.

    1, 2 & 3) Lavender, achillea and dahlias, such as the happy single, collarette and bishop varieties, are attractive to bumble bees because of their open, flat and easily accessible flowers.

    4) Pulmonaria are particularly popular with the wonderfully named hairy-footed flower bee.

    5) Buddleja is also, rather tellingly, known as the butterfly bush, is a magnet for butterflies because of its sucrose rich nectar.

    6 & 7) Lupins and penstemon have tubular flowers that are a favourite feeding place for the long tongued bumble bee.

    8) Campanula are a fabulous complement for your spring bulbs providing an early source of food for pollinators.

    9) Bees and butterflies can enjoy the lovely helenium for an extended period as they flower all summer. Their seed heads are also very attractive for birds in winter so don't clear them out too quickly.

    10) Globe Thistles (echinops) complement your lavender, penstemon and buddleja to provide a late summer feast.

    While you're busy making your garden pollinator friendly remember there are plenty of plants that act as deterrents to these industrious creatures. Rhododendrons, azaleas, trumpet flower "Angels Trumpet", oleanders, yellow jessamine, mountain laurel, heliconia, bog rosemary and amaryllis (grow these fantastic flowers inside only) have been found to be toxic for bees. Consider planting them some way away from your new found bee magnets.

    Achillea Terracotta

    Pulmonaria Blue Ensign

    Buddleja Empire Blue

    Lupin The Chateline
  • Planting bulbs in the green

    Single snowdrop in the green with pricesBuy lily of the valley onlineMany experts believe that planting snowdrops, aconites and bluebells in-the-green (in their growth phase) provides for the fastest and most successful way of introducing these lovely spring flowers to your garden. We have chosen these commercially grown garden favourites to fill any gaps you might have in your planting scheme. Plant them on receipt to ensure their delicate roots stay moist. This will provide you with stronger bulbs for next year.

    Our lovely Lily of the Valley “pips” are not strictly “in the green” but also need to be planted on receipt. These pips produce fabulously scented flowers and will naturalise easily even in shady areas. To increase their success, plant in pots then plant them out when the leaves are well established. By doing this you will ensure good leaves this year and a host of flowers next spring.

  • How to choose bulbs by colour on the Peter Nyssen website

    We know there’s a mind-boggling array of bulbs and plants available on our website. It’s what we’re famous for! To make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, we’ve added filters to our category pages so you can go straight to the products you’re looking for. In this simple “how to” guide, we show you how to narrow your search down to the colours you’ve chosen for your garden and how to add your choices to your basket. The principle can be easily applied to other attributes in the side menu: “blooming time”, “garden position”, “height”, “special features” (including whether the flower is scented or suitable for cut flower), “planting time”, “type of soil” and “hardiness”.

    Step 1: From any page on the website hover your mouse over “Bulbs, plants and more” from the top menu. A large drop-down menu will appear.

    Step 2: Move your mouse over the category you are interested in (tulips, for example) and click on it.

    using website diagram 1

    Step 3: Scroll down the page until you see the bold title colour in the left hand menu.

    Step 4: Tick the box next to the colour you require to select it. Your screen will refresh and show you only tulips in your chosen colour. You can tick as many colours as you like. We’ve chosen black and orange for this example.

    Step 5: For more information on a product and to add it to your basket, move your mouse over the picture and click on it (we’ve used Tulip Black Parrot as our example).

    Step 7: If you wish to purchase the product, use the up and down arrows to choose the quantity you want.

    Step 8: Click on the blue “add to basket” button.

    Step 9a: To return to your shopping move your mouse over the “back to previous” message and click on it. TOP TIP: if you are logged in as a customer to the website, your shopping basket will not expire and you can keep adding to it as you wish.

    Step 9b: To checkout and pay for your shopping, click on the “my basket” link at the top right of the page.

    using website diagram 3

    We hope you enjoy shopping with us. If you have any problems or would like advice you can email us on [email protected], call us on +44 (0) 161 747 4000 or use the instant messenger shown on every page of our website.

    With best wishes,

    The Team at Peter Nyssen









  • Top 5 hints and tips for April in the garden

    • Prepare the soil for the growing season ahead by digging in plenty of well rotted manure or compost. You can also add a general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone.


    • Tidy and cut back any old dead foliage from perennial plants to encourage new growth.


    • Lift and divide any large clumps of perennial plants to improve their vigour and continue to plant new perennials and summer flowering bulbs.


    • Carry a small note pad with you when out visiting gardens or shows to keep notes of the bulbs and plants you like. Write down the names as well as the colours and heights of your favourites.


    • Buy the Yellow Book 2015 (National Garden Scheme) and find a huge variety of creative gardens tended by ordinary people to visit for inspiration for your own garden.

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